USDA awards White Oak ISD and SUPERNet Consortium, located on UTHSCT campus, $210,138 distance learning grant

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $210,138 distance-learning grant to the White Oak Independent School District and the SUPERNet Consortium.

While the grant will help 11 districts within SUPERNet to bridge the “digital divide,” White Oak ISD will be the fiscal agent for the grant.

The grant will enable the districts to use videoconferencing technology to provide access to college classes, allow students to participate in virtual field trips, and offer teachers unique professional development opportunities.

The 11 school districts benefiting from the grant are: Carlisle, Hawkins, La Pryor, Mineola, New Summerfield, Tatum, Troup, Waskom, White Oak, Whitehouse, and Winnsboro.

In addition, the grant includes SUPERNet’s college affiliate, the North East Texas Consortium of Colleges and Universities (NETNet), located on The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler campus.

The White Oak ISD project is one of only three projects in Texas and just 105 in the United States this year to receive funding from the USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program.

The total amount of these grants added up to $28 million. Some 190 grant applications were received, of which 143 met eligibility requirements.

Many rural East Texas schools struggle to provide basic education to students, because the schools don’t have enough teachers, and their students are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

This grant will help the districts overcome these obstacles.

The technology supporting this program includes TANDBERG videoconferencing units, some of which have wireless capability and portability and are able connect to a wide range of display devices.

This technology will integrate with the schools’ existing technology infrastructure to provide access to distance learning opportunities.

This USDA program is designed to enhance educational and health services in rural America.

Of the grants awarded nationwide, 58 will be used to improve educational opportunities and 47 will provide access to medical services.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.